Luke 2: 41-52
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey.
Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Luke’s gospel this feast of the Holy Family depicts a rather frightening situation. Any parent panics in the experience of a lost or missing child. This gospel incident, of course, points ahead to Jesus’ public ministry, as the first step on the road which will eventually lead to the cross and beyond. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus says. The question must have hurt Mary and Joseph, even as it underlines the profound implications of his birth which we celebrate this holy season.
Concern, forgiveness, acceptance, compromise: these very human qualities exemplified by this family we call holy can also shape our attitudes towards one another, especially in those moments of misunderstanding which inevitably mark our own human relationships. Whether we are parents or children, strangers or good friends, we need to hold one another with open hands, allowing space for awkward questions and differing viewpoints, openings for healing and growth.
As we celebrate God’s new life this feast of the Holy Family we might ask just how it is that the Lord will support and strengthen us as we stand on the threshold of the new year. How is it that this God whose Advent continues to overwhelm and strengthen us through the coming of Jesus our Savior—just how is it that you and I will respond? In today’s second reading we hear the words: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children, the family of God?” May our loving God strengthen all those relationships which hold us together in faith. And may the peace of Christ we share this holy weekend come alive in all our relationships throughout the New Year!
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, we can see in you the same tension that we sometimes feel — to follow your call as well as to please the important people in our lives. We also identify with the anxiety of Mary and Joseph, seeking their lost boy and both relieved and angry when you are found in the Temple.
Discovering our purpose and parenting children have similarities. We need to lean on your grace to guide our efforts; we can’t do this alone. We will expect disappointments along the way. It is inevitable. But out of the uncertainties and the consistency of the search, we will be transformed and arrive at a life-giving acceptance and triumph as we place our lives before you.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team